Postpartum Healing with Nutrition and Exercise

After focusing 9 months on the nutritional needs of you and your baby, the focus on adequate nutrition continues even after delivery. Maternal nutrition in the postpartum period ( one year after delivery ) is especially important for all mothers, regardless of how you delivered your baby or if you choose to breastfeed.

After your baby has arrived, it’s often too easy to judge your weight and criticize your in-between clothing sizes. Women may set unrealistic expectations about the time it takes to return to a healthy weight, but giving yourself patience and reassurance will serve you best. Just as weight gain during your pregnancy took 9 months, a slow, steady postpartum weight loss is ideal for maintaining a healthy weight long-term. Rapid weight loss through fad diets is always considered unsafe even for non-pregnant adults, but it is especially not recommended in the postpartum period. Be kind and loving to yourself during this recovery time.

Focusing on nutrition during the first month after delivery is important to help your body heal and recover. During the postpartum period, a balanced diet filled with a variety of nutritious foods will help to heal your body and provide the energy it needs. This means incorporating fruits and vegetables, lean protein foods, whole grains, and calcium-rich dairy foods into your meals and snacks. During this busy time in your life, having nutritious foods on hand can help you make healthy food choices.

  • Fruits such as tangerines and bananas are great snacks that travel well when you have appointments and errands to run.
  • Keep lean protein foods options on hand such as low sodium canned beans or freeze pre-cooked beans. Add them to burritos, salads or scrambled eggs.
  • Peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios are also nutritious protein foods that travel well. Keep them on hand for easy snacks or salad toppers.
  • Pre-washed spinach, kale, or mixed greens help to speed up making a sandwich or salad. Baby carrots are washed and pre-cut to make an easy snack or side dish to your sandwich. Try dipping them in protein-rich nutritious foods such as hummus or peanut butter.
  • Frozen vegetables such as frozen peppers, cauliflower, edamame, or broccoli can save you time when making a stir-fry or casserole.
  •  Whole grain foods such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, and faro can be cooked and frozen to quickly complete that stir-fry or casserole.
  • Calcium-rich dairy foods such as fat free milk or yogurt, as well as non-dairy options such as fortified almond milk or soy yogurt help to restore calcium in your body.

Keep in mind that if you are breastfeeding, your body still requires additional calories than it did pre-pregnancy. Your Nuleeu Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) will individualize your nutrition recommendations to account for this increase in energy needs. Breastfeeding mothers should also continue to take their prenatal multivitamins and discuss all of their supplements with both their RDN and doctor.

Some general recommendations for pregnancy and postpartum from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:

  •  Do not start a new exercise program when pregnant and always discuss your exercise goals with your medical provider during pregnancy
  • Stick to what you have been consistently doing for a few month prior to becoming pregnant- with modifications
  • The body is make many changes to prepare for the delivery of the baby, so modifications can be necessary to prevent injury or harm during pregnancy and the postpartum period while you heal
  • If you did not have a consistent exercise plan prior to becoming pregnant, get clearance from your medical provider prior to starting something new
    Start low and slow
    – Low Stress
    – Low intensity
    – Slow pace
  • After the first trimester, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back
  • Typically, exercise is restricted for the first 6 weeks postpartum, and restarting will be cleared by your medical provider
  •  If appropriate, it is recommend to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week during pregnancy and in the postpartum period (moderate = being able to have a conversation without struggle)

Incorporating exercise during your postpartum time is an important key to health and wellness success. Your Nuleeu Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) will provide individualized counseling and fitness recommendations to help you safely meet your goals. Exercise that is both enjoyable and not over-strenuous is recommended during the postpartum period.

 

 

-Elizabeth Fay, MS, RDN, CNSC
-Anne Kristine Etherton MS, RDN, LDN, NASM-CPT

 

 

 

References:
1. Drake, Victoria, et al. “Pregnancy and Lactation: Micronutrient Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation.” Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/life-stages/pregnancy-lactation.
2. “Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Bone Health.” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health/pregnancy.
3. Rust, Rosanne. “Tips for Healthy Post-Partum Weight Loss.” Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 17 Jan. 2018, www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/tips-for-weight-loss/tips-for-healthy-post-partum-weight-loss.
4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S.Department of Health and Human Services; 2018. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf


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